Tech, Teaching and Me

Trying to turn off my brain by writing it down

What Would Your Advice Be?

on January 4, 2013

Last week, I got an email from a new Tech Resource teacher. She was a friend of a coworker who I admire and enjoy working with very much. This new Technology Resource teacher had just moved to a new state, got a job in small Catholic school and is wearing many hats in her new position. Chief cook and bottle washer, so to speak! One of her new responsibilities is teaching technology classes to grades Kindergarten to 5th grade. She was looking for lesson plans, ideas,  and tips to get started in her new journey. My kind coworker had some nice things to say about previous lessons we had done together and passed on my contact information. I saved the email for a few days as I reflected on what to say, what to advise and wondered about what I thought would be helpful to a new Tech Resource person. What would I have wanted someone to tell me many years ago?

Below you will find the letter I sent to her. We have emailed back and forth since this letter. I have invited her to collaborate on a 2nd grade Chinese New Year project over the next few weeks.

Happy New Year to you! 

I am flattered my coworker recommended you speak to me. I am certainly no expert in the field but I do try HARD to stay current, try new things and to create a challenging environment for the students, the teachers and myself.  Not every project is a success but every failed lesson plan teaches us all something. I am not afraid to fail. I do it all the time 🙂

 That would be my first tip to you. Don’t be afraid to fail. Fail openly, admit it often and own it to all of those around you. Tell the students, the teachers, the staff- “This is something new for me. I am not sure about it but we are trying it together”

 Second, don’t feel you need to be the expert. You can’t and won’t be the expert on all of the programs and if you wait until you are, it will be out of date before you can teach it. Get familiar with something, create an idea, and bring it to the lab. When you encounter something you are not sure how to fix, open it up to the classroom of students and say, “I am not sure how to do XXXXX. Does anyone know how to do that?” You will be amazed at how  the collaboration process will begin. No one person can know everything. Together, everyone in the room can know it all. We are smarter together, and that includes the students, than we are alone. I tell the students almost daily when I come to work if something doesn’t work correctly I don’t sit in silence and suffer. As adults, we go find someone else and ask for help. I expect and want them to do the same. Yes, at times there is noise, confusion and even chaos. It is chaos with purpose and that is fine with me!

 My final tip is one that I can’t emphasize enough to you. You need to create a Twitter account and follow other Catholic teachers, other Tech teachers and education professionals. You need to read their blogs. You need to check your Twitter account for 15-30 minutes a day. Read the tips other education professionals are sharing. If you are not on Twitter now, you are probably thinking, “No, I don’t or won’t do that.” I PROMISE you…..I GUARANTEE you…..if you join Twitter, follow me and slowly build a few others to follow, check it 4-5 times a week and spend 15-30 minutes during those times to read, reflect, eventually respond, your lessons, your teachings, your practice will grow. 

 I ask you to spend the time on Twitter, commit to it 4/5 times a week with 15-30 minutes each visit, and if after 30 days you aren’t a convert, email me and say, “I tried it and didn’t get anything from it.” Creating the account won’t do it though. Creating the account AND committing the time is the key.

 You asked me for help. This is how I would start my journey. Feel free to write back, ask me any questions, or if you want to collaborate, communicate work on a lesson together, just let me know. I would be more than happy to share some lessons. Let me know specifically what subjects you are looking for, or what topics. We can certainly talk more.

 To get started on Twitter- create an account at www.twitter.com

 Email me what your Twitter account is if you have one or after you create it. My account is http://www.twitter.com/tekkietalk or http://www.twitter.com/kaybisaillon. 

 Look through the educators I follow, look through the “Tweets” I send out and read through them. I send a few things a day, without overloading them (or at least I try). The links are generally tips, blogs, programs, websites, lesson plan ideas. There are so many teachers who are out there, sharing their lessons, sharing their work, and are doing some AMAZING WORK! Twitter is a door to education professionals. Twitter is the option to work with the best education professionals from all over the world. Why not take advantage of that opportunity?

 The last thing I will mention is every Saturday morning at 9am Eastern Standard Time, on Twitter, there is something called a “Tweet Chat”. It is a Catholic Educator Chat, on Twitter for Catholic Teachers around the world, primarily teachers in the United States participate but we have had a few from Australia and England. To participate, create your Twitter account, and then go to Tweetchat.com

The people who participate in the #CatholicEdchat  are a wonderful resource and I would recommend you follow them on your Twitter account. We are all strangers who have now built a wonderful sense of community.

 I am sure I overwhelmed you a bit. You asked where to start? You asked how to build and create interesting lessons, gather ideas and to challenge yourself and your students. This is where I would start. I am absolutely here to help. Please let me know what else I can do to help you on your journey.

 Gratefully,

Kay

What would YOU advise a new teacher, resource, admin professional who comes to you for lesson plans, ideas, or general advice? What would you tell yourself if you could build that time machine and go back?


7 responses to “What Would Your Advice Be?

  1. Pat Smiley says:

    Great post, Kay, as I would only expect since it’s you writing it. Oh, I wish we could build that time machine…some day, I’m sure! I totally agree with your advice. Another simple way to start is to just “open your classroom door” and “welcome” others in and go find others who are welcoming to you. Teaching can feel so alone, at times, which causes us to not see all the good we’re already doing – you need others to share with and share in your teaching efforts. Happy New Year to teachers everywhere!

    • kbisaill says:

      Pat,
      You are so quick! I was fixing a few things and then I saw your comment! You are right about the removing those walls, opening your classroom door and welcome others-other teachers from around the world want to collaborate and connect with you. Why not? You hit the nail on the head when you said, “Teaching can feel so alone, at times….” We become so isolated in our rooms and we forget that there are others, so many others teaching the same material, the same lessons, the same objectives as we are. Why not connect with them and improve our teaching for everyone to benefit?

  2. David says:

    Great advice for everyone, not just teachers. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be open and honest and never stop learning and improving.

    • kbisaill says:

      Thank you for kind words. What a great perspective about life. “Don’t be afraid to fail. Be open and honest and never stop learning and improving” Thank you for showing me this was a post about living, not just teaching.

  3. Hi Everyone,
    I am the new technology teacher, and I appreciate all of your advice. I am not a “technological” person, and I just don’t want to let the kids down.

    • psmiley says:

      Hi, Debbie! Just saying “I just don’t want to let the kids down” tells us you won’t! You are on the right path!!! Best wishes!

    • kbisaill says:

      Debbie,

      All we can do is try. You are doing that. Good luck and we are all here for you as you build your own, PLN, Professional Learning Network!

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